Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Trade Deadline Fallout

Friday, July 13, 2018


I’m just back from a week’s vacation, so this is a Strike Zone with a different format. Instead of the usual notes, I want to look at the potential fallout from trades that could be consummated before the July 31 deadline. I’ll start off with a handful of players and then move on to the closer scenarios.

 

Next week’s All-Star break column should be up Wednesday and will be a 2019 rankings column that follows the format of my monthly rankings.

 

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Trade candidates

 

Manny Machado - SS Orioles - Baltimore might botch the return for Machado, but it looks like they’ll at least get something for him before the deadline after making the mistake of holding on to him for too long. Once the move comes, it’s likely that they’ll put Tim Beckham back at shortstop. Danny Valencia could return to third base from right field, but he’s a defensive liability there and he’s quite the trade candidate himself. Eventually it seems likely that they’ll plug in a prospect, either Steve Wilkerson or Drew Dosch, at third. Wilkerson had the edge a week ago, but he’s expected to miss a month or more with a strained oblique. I think Dosch might be the better option anyway; the lefty swinger has hit .327/.404/.545 against right-handers in Triple-A. He’ll need to be platooned, perhaps with Valencia, but that’s not a big issue.

 

The other possibility is that the Orioles get back a major league-ready infielder in a Machado deal. That’d most likely be the case if they trade with the Brewers, who could offer the disappointing Orlando Arcia in return. The Brewers, Diamondbacks and Dodgers would use Machado at short if they acquired him, while the Yankees and Red Sox would want to plug him in at third base. The Phillies could use him at either spot, but they would benefit most from his presence at third base, even if Maikel Franco is running circles around Scott Kingery offensively (the Phillies’ best lineup would have Machado at third and J.P. Crawford at short once healthy). I’m not sure what the Cubs would do, but the best solution probably involves Machado at third and Kris Bryant in the outfield. The Dodgers would be left with a very crowded outfield if they acquired Machado, as Chris Taylor would likely play center fairly regularly. That could be bad news for a healthy Yasiel Puig or Matt Kemp if he slumps, since Joc Pederson needs to start somewhere against righties.

 

Now that Greg Bird is showing real signs of life, the Yankees would have a tougher call about what to do if they acquired Machado. Moving Miguel Andujar to first seemed like the logical move, but they might be better off platooning Bird against righties and Andujar versus lefties. The Red Sox are a far longer shot for Machado, given that they have less need than some, a weak assortment of prospects and luxury tax issues. If they did somehow make the deal anyway, it’d probably be necessary to write off Rafael Devers until 2019.

 

J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada - SPs Blue Jays - Toronto is going to move at least one starter and perhaps two, opening up more room in a rotation already missing Jaime Garcia (shoulder) and Aaron Sanchez (finger). Both of those starters are expected back relatively soon to fill gaps, but the Jays are still going to have to rely on some younger arms in the second half. They’ve already called up Ryan Borucki, who has impressed with a 2.25 ERA in three starts. 27-year-old Chris Rowley isn’t young, having lost a lot of time due to injuries, but since he does have a 3.45 ERA at Triple-A Buffalo, he should be in the mix. More interesting is 22-year-old Sean Reid-Foley, a 2014 second-round pick who has really put it together this year after a rough 2017. He’s 10-2 with a 3.11 ERA and a 109/35 K/BB in 92 2/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A. I wouldn’t project mixed-league value for him in the second half, but AL-only value is quite possible.

 

Josh Donaldson, Yangervis Solarte - INFs Blue Jays - Donaldson’s calf injury has made things all too complicated here, as it’s unclear whether any suitor will be able to get a look at him before the trade deadline. Solarte might be more likely to go; his solid production, versatility and modest salary make him a fit with practically every contender. The Jays could then give his at-bats to Lourdes Gurriel, who might be an option in deeper mixed leagues in the second half.

 

Mike Moustakas - 3B Royals - Obviously, the Royals are lacking much offense at the Triple-A level or they would have long since reached for it. Their preferred replacement at third base when they trade Moustakas will be Cheslor Cuthbert, but it’s still unclear when or if he’ll return from a back injury. They’ll probably get by with Alcides Escobar and Hunter Dozier at third for a spell. If they succeed in trading Lucas Duda to a contender, it would leave the door wide open for 26-year-old first baseman Frank Schwindel, who has been putting up nice numbers in the high minors for nearly three years now. Schwindel is a fine AL-only sleeper for the second half. Moustakas’s value would almost certainly get a boost if traded.

 

Adrian Beltre - 3B Rangers - It sounds like Beltre would waive his no-trade rights to go to a contender. The old assumption was that Joey Gallo would simply take over at third whenever Beltre moved on, but now Gallo wants nothing to do with his old position. That’s fine, though, since the Rangers can just go with Jurickson Profar at the hot corner on a regular basis.

 

Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler - SPs Mets - I’m so glad I’m not in charge of this mess. While it’s turned out to be another disastrous year, it’s still quite possible to squint and see the Mets’ arms making them contenders next season. It’d just require copious amounts of luck. What doesn’t seem practical is simply selling deGrom and keeping everyone else, so my guess is that the Mets mostly keep their rotation intact for now. I could see Wheeler going; the uptick in his velocity has made him more interesting, but because he is a free agent after next season, the long-term payoff for turning him around isn’t as high as it might seem.

 

Asdrubal Cabrera - 2B Mets - The Mets would like to give Jeff McNeil a shot, likely at second base, in light of his remarkable success this year. The 26-year-old hit .327/.402/.626 in 57 games at Double-A Binghamton, and he’s at .393/.453/.655 in 21 games since moving up to Triple-A Las Vegas. Cabrera has picked it back up some after slumping in June, and he has a fine .280/.328/.485 line for the season. He’s also in the final year of his contract. Someone who misses out on Machado is going to want Cabrera for second base or third.

 

Michael Fulmer - SP Tigers - Fulmer’s ERA has climbed from 3.06 as a rookie to 3.83 last year and 4.11 so far this year. Still, his velocity has held steady, even as he’s dealt with minor elbow and shoulder problems, and his strikeout rate, while never exceptional, is as strong as ever. He could go from a fringy mixed-league guy to a real asset if he’s moved to a contender, especially if he switches leagues. Detroit is just such a bad situation for a pitcher.

 

The catchers - J.T. Realmuto (Marlins), Wilson Ramos (Rays), Salvador Perez (Royals), Jonathan Lucroy (A’s), Russell Martin (Blue Jays), Francisco Cervelli (Pirates), Robinson Chirinos (Rangers), Devin Mesoraco (Mets) - In many of these cases, it isn’t of a whole lot of fantasy consequence who would take over as starters in place of departed catchers. The A’s and Blue Jays do have very interesting catching prospects in Sean Murphy and Danny Jansen, respectively, but it’s not certain that either would get the call even if those teams do trade their starters. Plus, Murphy is expected to miss a month with a broken hamate bone. In Oakland’s case, I would think the club would want to upgrade from Lucroy, arguably a very poor regular at this point, in the event of a move. The backup with the most to gain if his regular gets moved is Elias Diaz in Pittsburgh; he’s hit .290/.340/.490 with seven homers in his 145 at-bats this year.

 

The more interesting topic here is who could get replaced. The Astros were already considering upgrading from Brian McCann before he hurt his knee. They have Max Stassi starting now, and Stassi has been an extremely pleasant surprise this year. They still might consider a move, largely because they have so little else that needs fixing, but it’s not really a need. Matt Wieters would lose his spot if the Nationals could pull off a deal. Old friend Ramos would make the most sense there. The A’s really need to think about the upgrade if they’re going for it this year. The Red Sox became a possibility for a catcher after Christian Vazquez went down with his broken finger, but I’m guessing they’ll be content with Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart. If not, hopefully Swihart is sent out in the deal and gets to play at least semi-regularly for some club, making him potentially of use in two-catcher mixed leagues. The Brewers could use Ramos to play over Manny Pina. The Mariners and Cardinals won’t be in the market for starters, but quality backups would be nice.

 

Since it does seem like such a buyer’s market, I’m guessing Realmuto doesn’t get moved. The Marlins will ask for a ton, and the Astros are the only team I can really envision potentially meeting their price tag. A Perez deal also seems highly unlikely; the Royals still like him as the face of the franchise and they’d be selling low if they moved him now.

 


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Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot



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